Bread on the waters (it brings out the fish)
‘See I’m more important than you!’ squalled the twitterati. “I’ve got more twitter followers AND more facebook likes. I’ve totally smoked you etc etc… to summarize the pursuit of irrelevance that Larry Correia blogged about here.
She was rating herself for the above reason as THE authority who should be able to tell this badthink man to listen to her little minion, who relentlessly kept up the usual garboil about how mean Larry was, and how he didn’t ought to badthink because that was evul. Evul along with, you know, guns and thinking human gender was binary. (and there I thought it was male or female. But then I guess I also think there are 10 kinds of people, those who understand what binary usually means and those who don’t).
I’ve always been confused by the non-logic of this sort of thing. If said person/s (and there are many of them) are really evul uncontrollable monsters because guns and badthink, then, well, why don’t they just shoot you and any other folk who pester them or dare disagree? It’s kind of like the feminasty clarion-call that ‘all men are oppressive monsters who would rape us and have us barefoot, pregnant and the kitchen’. Get real. Men are, on average, bigger, faster just as intelligent (on the mean), and have a broader bell curve of with extremes of intelligence and stupidity around that mean, are more prone to physical violence, and more capable at it, than women. Guns if anything help a little to equalize things, but men tend to better and more familiar with those too. If all men were what these feminists claim they are, then all women would be raped, barefoot pregnant and in the kitchen. As they’re not, I guess that one is merely ‘95% consensus’ –ie. Bull.
Still, the form of logic (which comes under the same umbrella as ‘If I buy Kippers it will not rain’ level of brilliant thought) that led the silly woman to conclude that because she had more twitter followers or facebook likes she was vastly important, and hadn’t even written a novel or translated. (Don’t ask. Logic, common sense, and quite probably sanity had left long before, on the last train for the coast) than Larry, she could tell him what to do and think. And then her friendies, having drunk the cool-aid were indignant that he could pick on her and show her how irrelevant she really was. It was just evul nasty badthink. See: her putting him down was good, and him putting her down was bad, because badthink, and probably guns too.
I’m too old for this drivel –i.e. I have a mental age of over 4 and will have to wait for a second childhood to be able to cope with it, and have my intellect to decline to under senile Labrador retriever to get it. But it did resonate with an interesting conversation I’d had with my young French cousin – a bright guy from a very different background. We were talking about the value of fans, conferences, twitter, facebook etc. And he came out at monetary value for Apple fans, and I found another for facebook followers.
Now, what’s the difference between a solitary guy (a) (like me, who will happily take on the sea (which you ought to know is a large vastly powerful entity, can kill effortlessly rather like a hippopotamus, but far far far bigger and more powerful and dangerous. You don’t play with hippos but somehow the sea is just fine, until it kills you) but battles to deal with crowds or large group socializing (I am a little deaf — diving and explosions I guess, and I have a personal space of about three yards, unless I am sleeping with you. Which counts all of you but the wife and cats out.)), (b) a person who hates the outdoors, and hates crowds and is introverted and likes to read, and (c) a cheerful extrovert who loves to talk to all her/his friends, all the time if possible? The answer, if all of them are writers, is that at present, (c) will probably enjoy the most financial success. (b) will write most books, and will write for the group who read most books, and (a) will catch fish. In reality (c) may have more skill in communication than the other two, but their free time to write is small (unless they write well, and fast). So it’s (b) for the logical win, but (c ) for the actual, and (a) to catch fish… so why?
Well, the fish part is easy because it’s all they’re any good at or for, and the other part has to come down to communication and actually letting people know the book exists. Which these days comes down to fan base, which in history meant publishing short stories, going to cons, and your publisher doing the publicity (and then (b) used to win) and now comes down to social media (There is a special piece of financial logic that says publicity is what publishers arrange when you don’t need it). Blogging, twitter, facebook, and next week something new – which, as it’s over to the author to do the work, mostly, favors (c). While authors take part in social media (and indeed editors do too, where oddly they always have time to respond immediately about trivial PC issues, even when they can’t deal with a book query in 18 months) it really is like using a brain surgeon for your plumbing job. He might be really good at it, or not, but it has the brain surgery queue getting longer.
Of course on average – there are always exceptions – (b) still produce better books for the audience and (a) more fish, usually for themselves. But publishers look at social media figures in making their purchasing decisions, and independents too do better because of them. Which means a whole lot of (b) and even some (a) who write are doing their best to do something they don’t do well or naturally.
Social media doesn’t usually work well for them (me) but even having the brain surgeon at your pipes is better than having the toilet overflow and drip through the roof onto the computer. And while rampaging herds of super-intelligent toilets are now ravaging the internet*, it hasn’t made me vast sales, but has made me some good solid friends and a fan. Oh, sorry fans. Both of them.
Seriously, those are very valuable people, and a vast hole in in the way data is used. You see we live – particularly publishers — in the age of the interchangeable widget. It’s all about the number of followers, as if these were all the same thing. There is a value in any kind of ‘follower’ – but they really are not all alike.
Take the twitterati who was arguing with Larry (please! Can we pay you?). She may tell her entire twitter and facebook following she has finally written the novel, and perhaps 1:100 will buy it. Maybe she’s sort of average readable, and her 20 000 followers add up to a respectable 200 sales. Given that she writes a book a year, her followers are worth at say 2.50 dollars a HC book – $500 a year, or about 2.5 cents a follower per year, and they’re often once off. I’m not knocking it, it’s better money than the guy with the fish. 1:50 is about my average response, and I don’t have 1K followers, but at least I can still eat fish. Larry Correia on the other hand (I’m making this up, didn’t bother to look) has say only 10 000 followers. However… Every last one of them will buy everything he writes and tell an average of least 3 friends. Say he also only writes one book – Each follower is worth $10 per year, and they’re yours, every year, or, conservatively, in financial terms, worth 400 times a year and probably 10 000 times a lifetime (hers are less likely return customers), what the Twitterati’s follower is – which was sort of what he was proving. However I still have fish. Hey Larry, you want to buy a nice fish? Or I can take you to shoot or catch them, which might not make me any money, but I’d enjoy it.
So the key here is reaching not numbers, but quality (and that, from the writers POV varies a lot, there’s the guy who will never sell many copies to his friends, because he doesn’t have a lot – but will provide you with priceless information about explosives, or fencing, and the other fellow who has 200 000 ardent true fans of his own, who is worth, financially, the rest of your list) and numbers – first you have to get that 1:100, but then keep them. Which means two things in turn, that even fishermen can offer – long-term relationships (which means regular and reliable) with readers/followers, and content that amuses/appeals to them. And that’s sort of my goal, barring luck and internet meme that makes me famous overnight (then I still have to keep those followers – which is easier if you have lots of content, and it is quite entertaining). So… yep if you want to follow me, davefreersf on Twitter, Davefreer.com if you want a free sample. I believe there is a facebook page too, I’m not very good at this stuff, it does not swim, and last time I speared a computer it was ugly and not very tasty. I promise to very, very rarely tell you have a new book out, and occasionally say sarcastic things about just about everything, especially myself. And sometimes about fish.
*AKA trolls, if you always wondered where they were spawned. They’re super-intelligent for toilets, not monkeys or human beings